Final Resting Place

Memorial Day is just around the corner, as it the anniversary of Kramer, my husband’s, passing.  My goal has been to get his final resting place the way I want it.

It will be the second anniversary of his passing…yes, it’s really taken that long.

He died on June 2nd, 2019.  We had the funeral on Wednesday after.  By the time Sunday had rolled around I was ready to go to the cemetery.  It was hard going the first time.  I was super anxious about it as in the past, I’ve not been someone who feels any connection between my loved one and the cemetery.  I wondered if I would.

I walked and took Ruby with me.  The cemetery is only a few blocks from my house. Ruby was my beagle at the time and she was super close to Kramer.  I figured Ruby was the perfect companion as she wouldn’t judge me no matter what I did at the cemetery.

I anticipated lots of different things at the cemetery.  I imagined I’d cry.  I imagined the numb feeling might come back.  I imagined some else being at the cemetery and me feeling totally awkward.  But what happened I didn’t imagine at all.

I came down the path, turned the corner and there was nothing.  Nothing.  There was no headstone.  Even though I knew I didn’t order one, somehow I imagined one would be there.  I imagined a pile of dirt.  So often I had driven past a cemetery and seen a pile of dirt but there was none.

From the road, I could see no evidence that anyone had recently been buried.  I was so upset.  I knew I didn’t dream his illness, death, and funeral but I could see no proof.  I think I had gone to the cemetery wanting proof it all happened.  I know that sounds crazy but for me, the whole week of his death, the funeral and a few days later was one giant fog.  I think a person’s body does that to protect them and get them through the shock of it all…but in the moment, I didn’t realize that.

All I could see was nothing.  There was no headstone.  There was no mound of dirt.  WHERE WAS HE??

I started second-guessing myself.  The cemetery wasn’t big.  Of course, his resting place was where I thought it was.  Seriously.  It is not a huge cemetery.  I started walking to where I thought it was.  By now, I was crying.  Ruby, my beagle, was just fine.  She was sniffing and tugging on the leash which she normally didn’t do.

She pulled me to the spot where he was buried.  I had to look twice.  Our friend who digs the graves does it with a small excavator.  He did an amazing job.  I had to really look to see where skimmed the sod off, dug the grave, and then replaced it all.

Ruby didn’t look.  She just found her way via her nose.  She laid on the grave and rolled.  It was so sad.  She was missing him too.

I seriously had thought I was losing it until I could see that there had been a hole and that Ruby had found his grave.

I didn’t stay there long…I couldn’t.  It was so weird as there was no stone.

I went home and my #1 priority was to get a headstone there.  I couldn’t handle it with no headstone as I knew as time went on I knew that grass would grow over…I could not go through what I had just gone through.  I needed a headstone as some sort of proof or evidence that he was really gone and that I hadn’t gone crazy.

To anyone who hasn’t gone through the death of someone really close to you, this probably sounds crazy, but stuff like this really does happen.  I think a person is in such shock that seeing or imagining something else shocking, like you dreamed it all, can actually, almost seem real.

Kalissa stopped at the cemetery and she had an almost similar experience so when I said I wanted someone to go with me to pick out a headstone she quickly volunteered.  In the end, three of us went.

In the meantime, Kalissa and both wanted something there so she bought a bunch of fake flowers.

We picked a stone at the end of June and were told it would be installed in the fall.  I ended up calling in August and said we wanted it installed by Kramer’s birthday at the end of September.  It ended up being installed in August.

I was so happy.  I really liked how it had turned out.  They had asked if we wanted flower stand holes put in on the sides of the bottom cement slab.  I had said yes.

With it being August, it was too late to figure out the flowers.  The next year Kalissa tried some flowers.  She wanted something that clipped on the top of the headstone.  She bought it and the next time we went, it was gone.  We don’t know if it was the wind or someone stole it.

Then I decided to search for a plant holder.  I went to the local nursery.  She was out for the year already…I wrote a blog post to see if anyone had any advice.  A sweet blog reader who I’ve met in person ended up sending me memorial money to get the plant stands.  THANKS SO MUCH.

I ended up calling the nursery back and asked her to set some aside for me this spring.

Here they are.  They didn’t come like this though…Karl and Craig had to cut them down to this size.  Then Craig and I took them out to the cemetery and one hole was deeper than the other…so back home to cut it again.

Then check out the hole at the bottom.  The stand is much thinner than the hole.  It flopped around.

Friends of ours happened to be at the cemetery.  We flagged them down and they came over.  They suggested putting sand in the hole…and that’s what I did.

Here is how it looks…The owner of the nursery suggested this variety of geraniums as they are more drought resistant.  I wanted live plants.  Kramer hated anything fake.

Karl went with me and I made a return trip to clean off the stone.  I think taking a bucket of soapy water is going to have to be a regular thing.  His stone is loved by a lot of birds…and grass clippings.

I think it looks really classy.  I love the red flowers with the black stone and white flower pots.

I finally feel really good about this.  Kramer’s final resting place looks really nice.

Here’s how it looks from the road…

It’s hard to believe it was two years ago when I rounded the corner and was shocked that nothing was there…no mound of dirt…no nothing.  It felt so much like a dream.  It’s hard to look back and remember the feelings from that moment.

I am so thankful a stone is there and everything turned out looking so nice.  More than that, I’m so thankful I’ve found a way to live with grief.  It’s not something I’ll ever get past.  It’s not something I’ll ever work through.  Grief is something I can learn to live with.  I’ve come so far from the moment I visited the cemetery the first time.  I’m so proud of that.

31 thoughts on “Final Resting Place”

  1. The geraniums finish it off perfectly Jo. You’ve come so far and achieved so much in the past 2 years, you should be proud xx

  2. It is beautiful Jo and a nice tribute for your husband. And for others as they can see it from afar! Love geraniums. Its nice that you are able to walk there and to be close to him.

  3. I understand completely. When my 22 year old daughter died, I “needed” to have the stone in place. We also bought our own stone and had it placed….my daughter’s stone says “beloved daughter and sister” and I needed people to know whose beloved daughter she was. One day I will be right next to her….
    You are right, the grief never completely goes away…it’s more like you just learn to live with it.
    Hugs to you on this difficult day. Will be thinking of you.

  4. Hugs. It looks beautiful. You are fortunate that his resting place is close and you can visit when you feel the need.

  5. Everything about making choices for a grave stone is hard. Even when you have picked a stone, there is the picking of styles, and information to include to make it personal, which reflects the person there, like did you want your maiden name on it? or not? or something else? date of marriage? nothing besides the names? It took us just over 2 years to get a stone for dad. My husband and I talk about it. We drive by his parents’ cemetery every day so not like it is out of sight! Love your stone and love the plant holders. They will keep the mower from damaging the flowers. I love that Kramer is close to a field…and he can see the farmers still.

  6. Judith Fairchild

    Jo, you have endured the worst part of losing your husband with such grace. Praying for you through these co
    Ing weeks. It’s been almost 30 years since my husband passed. But when the month that he died rolls around and on his birthday. I hurt all over again. It has gotten easier to lay those feelings aside , but they’re still there. It’s ok to feel the way you do. It helps to know that I’m not crazy missing him.

  7. Lori L Douglas

    It looks very nice! Red flowers remind me of you too. A lovely tribute to Kramer. I have learned so much from you as you have traveled your grief journey. Bless your heart Jo! I hope you have a great family weekend!

  8. Jo, you are so strong – “Kramer strong!” I haven’t gone through what you have, but can only imagine. The gravesite looks very nice, beautiful flowers. I was thinking that the grave is close to the field and how appropriate for a farmer (after typing this, I noticed the comment above this one said same thing!). Thanks for sharing.

  9. Missy Reynolds

    Bless you, Jo. Grief is a life-long journey! I read the other day that “grief is the love that happens after you lose someone.” Oh so true!

  10. Jo, it looks just right! I’m glad you’ve found a way to live with grief. I have cried many tears for you as I lost my husband just before you in January. Blessings to you.

  11. You have come so far in two years! Kramer would be very proud of all you’ve done. Grief will always be part of you but it’s only a part. You have learned to go on living your life and enjoying being alive. This is the way Kramer would want you to be. You have taught all of us so much as we have watched you cope with one of the greatest losses anyone have. Thank you for being so open about sharing your life with us.

  12. Beverly Douglas

    Jo, the stone looks wonderful. I know it gives you peace to see something tangible. I do a lot of genealogy, and seeing an actual headstone makes my ancestors feel more real and not just names on paper. I have a suggestion: instead of using soapy water to clean the stone, which will eventually erode the stone, get a product called D2. I do a lot of cemetery cleanup and stone cleaning, and this is what is recommended. You can get a starter kit on Amazon.

  13. It looks beautiful. My dad was the same way. He could not handle fake flowers. He is now at rest in a cemetery a good 3 hours away in his hometown. If others wonder what to do to get real flowers at grave sites of loves ones and you live many miles away, reach out to a local flower place. Because my mom and I could not travel last spring, we called a nursery close to the cemetery and they delivered flowers to his grave. In the fall, we made a visit and the flowers were still beautiful. A wonderful service. Enjoy your holiday weekend with the family.

  14. Beautiful post Jo – thanks for sharing! And the flower pot holders look beautiful – you did a great job. Hugs and blessings to you

  15. That looks terrific!
    Each one of us has a different way to deal with our grief – and we each need different things or ways to help us.
    I love the way you added the line at the bottom with all of your children’s names – a way of honoring the continuity of your family!

  16. I remember being excited as I made the turn in the cemetery to see that my newborn son’s stone had been laid in time for his great grandmother to see it. I totally get it.

    My grandparents were caretakers of this cemetery, so for me (and all my cousins), it is going to Grandma and Grandpa’s house.

    The stone you have is lovely.

  17. It looks good, Jo! And the comment about cleaning the stone reminds me that I should take some soapy water with me on my rounds this year.

    One thing I’d suggest – keep an eye on the cemetery clean-up schedule. I think most have one 1 or 2 times a year where all the old decorations are removed. You may end up missing your pot holders depending on who’s doing the picking up. Some will take everything that’s not a veteran marker, some will leave things that are meant for re-use like your plant stands.

  18. Jo
    You have written a lovely and touching article about grief, expressing what many of us feel but are unable to articulate. Your words are both comforting and meaningful, and precious Ruby showing you the way.
    Thank you for today’s blog and photos. (Love that there is a field next to the cemetery)

  19. Sending quilty hugs as you approach the 2nd anniversary of Kramer’s passing. You are a strong woman, Jo, and have coped with the grief with grace. Focusing on your home, family, and quilting has seen you through this most challenging time. Thanks for being such a good example of how to keep on keeping on!

  20. Beautiful post, Jo, and beautiful headstone and planters with the red geraniums. Been thinking of putting geraniums at my folks’ headstone the past few days. Dad would have been 89 this weekend. Hugs to you.

  21. My thoughts are with you as I too am a widow. When I was getting a tombstone for my husband I was able to use my cell phone to take photos so I could include my sons in the decision process. Both my sons don’t live near by but I wanted their advice. One thing I noticed about the wording on your lovely stone was having your husband’s name listed first followed by your name. This is what I wanted especially since we were always known as Dean and Dianne. Sadly the night of my husband’s funeral it rained very hard and his grave sunk so much more dirt had to be added after it dried out. I understand the journey you have been on and yes there are days I just have a meltdown. Peace and blessings to you.

  22. Bonnie J Anderson

    This article is so well written!! I lost my dearly loved husband in January 2021–it seems that every day brings another memory, another meltdown and then always followed by “oh what if’s.” I am a true believer and if I did not have Christ beside me each day, I am not sure I would have made it even this many days. Memorial Day, only brings memories of many years past and I hesitate about the decorating of graves. Neither of us felt that it was a “duty”, having lost both of our parents and many others as the time marches on, I am still debating about flowers etc. May God bless each and everyone of you who have experienced the loss of someone so very dear!!

  23. Oh my gosh. Kramer and I shared a birthday. Not the same year but the same day.

    I think having my parents buried at the National cemetery was so much easier. All the plaques are the same. Flat on the ground so they can be mowed over and they took care of getting them made and added. My parents are buried close to my husbands parents so when we visit the cemetery it is easy to visit both sites.

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